Major General Claude MARTIN

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FrenchBorn Claude MARTIN

Officer in the French, and later the British, army in India

Born on January 4, 1735 in Lyon, France , France

Died on September 13, 1800 in Lucknow, India

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Claude Martin was the son of Fleury Martin (1708–1755), a vinegar maker, and Anne Vaginay (1702–1735), a butcher's daughter. At his local parish school he excelled in mathematics and physics. After leaving school he was apprenticed to a local silk weaver. Martin's family were middle class and by this time they had businesses in mustard, vinegar and brandy. His decision to go into the silk yarn business did therefore not go down well with his family. In 1751 at the age of 16 Martin decided to seek his fortune abroad, and he signed up with the French Compagnie des Indes. His mother is reported to have said that he should not return from enlisting as a soldier until he was "in a carriage". He was posted to India where he served under Commander and Governor Joseph François Dupleix and General Thomas Arthur Lally in the Carnatic Wars against the British East India Company. When the French lost their colony of Pondicherry in 1761, he accepted service in the Bengal army of the British East India Company in 1763, ultimately rising to the rank of Major General.

He was initially employed at the then-new Fort William in Calcutta, Bengal (now, West Bengal), and afterwards on the survey of Bengal under the English Surveyor General James Rennell. In 1776, Martin was allowed to accept the appointment of Superintendent of the Arsenal for the Nawab of Awadh, Asaf-ud-Daula, at Lucknow, retaining his rank but being ultimately placed on half pay. He resided in Lucknow from 1776 until his death. It may be that the French Revolution prevented him from returning "in a carriage". His friend Antoine Polier gave up his Muslim wives and children to live in a French chateau and was stabbed in the terror. However, Martin never gave up his nationality and died a French national.

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